By: Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel
Efforts to clean up polluted springs in Florida now include a state rebate for homeowners opting to replace their septic systems with models that perform better.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is offering as much as $10,000 to offset the cost of installing septic-tank systems that significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution they discharge.
Nitrogen pollution seeping through the ground into the Florida Aquifer is emerging at springs, triggering growths of harmful algae.
The rebate would apply to springs priority areas in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties, as well as in Citrus, Hernando, Leon, Marion, Pasco and Wakulla.
“This is so new we are not sure how much the nitrogen-reduction systems are going to cost,” said Drew Bartlett, deputy secretary at the Department of Environmental Protection.
Bartlett said he has seen the systems priced at from $15,000 to $30,000, but the figures could change as nitrogen-reducing septic systems become more widespread.
There are now two types approved by the state for use. An “active” model requires electricity and ongoing maintenance, while a “passive” system uses materials in and around the septic system that absorb nitrogen pollution.
Either system must remove at least 60 percent of nitrogen pollution. Bartlett said some systems are capable of 90 percent removal.
Many springs-protect advocates contend that the state is not aggressive enough in reducing nitrogen pollution, which comes from many sources…